It’s not the first thing people think about when you talk about supporting survivors of family violence, but producing a new short film, has been a powerful tool to help women overcome trauma.
There is still a lot of shame and stigma associated with family violence, which can lead to social isolation amongst people who are affected by it. It is so important that we challenge this, so that all people feel confident to seek the support they need.
Celebrating Strength and Resilience was written and produced by participants in a Your Community Health counselling group. It tells their personal stories of how they survived and managed their lives, having experienced hurtful or abusive behaviour in a relationship.
Not only is it important for others in the community to hear the real life experiences of people how have experienced family violence, producing this video helped the participants manage and overcome their trauma in a way that was right for them. They control the story they tell and how it is told. Sharing their stories as a group – and through the video – is an important way of coming to terms with their experiences. It helped them reclaim authorship and ownership of their lives, giving them the skills and knowledge to reduce the impact of violence. It also provided an opportunity for them to apply their creativity to the design of the video.
As a Counsellor, I know that connecting and sharing experiences, and building a sense of connection with other people who have experienced similar things, is really valuable. It helps people feel less alone. When supported by professionals, it can help people work through trauma and grief.
Women who participated have reported the benefits of working alongside others in similar circumstances. They also report increased personal strength and resilience.
Family violence is a huge issue in Australia. It affects one in four women. Children are often affected by witnessing violence. Women are commonly isolated and feel alone in their experiences and often do not report the violence through fear of further violence. I am proud that Your Community Health’s counselling service has provided therapeutic counselling and group work with women experiencing family violence for more than 15 years. It helps people feel less alone. As one participant said:
“I liked hearing people’s stories, because it helped me tell my stories”.
Family violence is a complex issue and through the production of this short documentary, we were able to the unique needs, safety and time required for healing and change. The women who produced it set the pace for their story telling.
I encourage you to watch and share this video. (Or here is a short trailer to give you an insight!) If we are to tackle family violence in our community, it is important that we listen to and understand these real lived experiences – and not just the statistics.
If you are experiencing family violence or are affected by any of the issues raised in this short documentary, you can call the following services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
· 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
· Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (1800 015 188)
· Life Line (13 11 14)
If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
This service is funded and supported through the Counselling Support Alliance (Northern Integrated Family Violence Services, Women’s Health in the North) and receives direct referrals for this through Berry Street Family Violence Service.